Full Citation

  • Title What Khrushchev Wants
  • Author Alsop, Joseph
  • Publication Title New York Herald Tribune (European Edition)
  • Collection New York Herald Tribune (European Edition)
  • Date Saturday-Sunday,  December 27-28, 1958
  • Page Number 4
  • Place of Publication Paris, France
  • Language English
  • Document Type Article
  • Publication Section News
  • Source Library The New York Times Company
Matter of Fact What Khrushchev Wants By Joseph Alsop TJERLIN. — What the Kremlin wants is this city. Nikita Khrushchev’s threats to Berlin are most emphatically not primarily intended to force the West to recognize the East Ger¬ man government, or to promote German con¬ federation, or to produce another summit confer¬ ence. They are primarily in¬ tended to secure the surrender of free Berlin. One can guess the moment when the renew¬ ed attempt on Berlin began to be planned. One can even im¬ agine the con¬ versation ' that J. Alsop decided Khrush¬ chev to act. The moment was al¬ most certainly last summer, when the Kremlin extended a huge credit to the East German govern¬ ment, in order to help it get its economic and political house in order. Khrushchev was reportedly rather severe with the slimy Wai¬ ter Ulbricht, rapping him smartly on the knuckles as he promised the big loan. * * * “Really now,” one can almost hear Khrushchev saying to the East Germans, “you ought to do at least as well as the Czechs, and with all this help we’re giving you, you’ve just got to do as well.” And one can almost hear Ul¬ bricht’s answering wail: “But how can I ever do as well as tile Czechs, when I have this cancer in my heart that is free Berlin?” The evidence for some such ex¬ change is by.no means imaginary. In every discussion Nikita Khrush¬ chev has ever held with Western- y pp ers, one of the two or three themes he has stressed most strongly is the' need to “recognize and accept the status quo.” By this he means several different things, but the first thing on the list is cer¬ tainly recognition and acceptance of the status auo in Eastern Eu¬ rope. But the Eastern European status quo can never really be “accepted” by the West, as long as the West insists upon protecting free Berlin, for the very simple reason that the Eastern European status quo can never be truly stabilized as long as this great city lives In glittering freedom in the very midst of Walter Ulbricht’s drao slave state. For that precise rea¬ son, Khrushchev calls Berlin a “cancer.” * * » The hemorrhage of refugees, from East Germany into Berlin is very serious, but it is not the root of the trouble. Otherwise, steps iwould already have been taken to stop the hemorrhage, as could quite easily be done by draconian police measures. The often silly Western propaganda carried on from free Berlin is not the root of the trou¬ ble either. The root of the trouble is simply this city. Anyone who has any doubts on this point only needs to drive down to the Brandenburger Toi, where slave Berlin begins, and note the contrast between the ter¬ rible grayness on one side of the line and the brilliance and bustle on the other side. That contrast cannot be hidden. Those who have experienced war¬ time internment know only too well the first rule of all efficient camp commandants. If the in¬ mates can be made to- forget there is any other way to live—and they do forget in time if they are not reminded—the camp settles into its routine, however horrible the routine may be. Walter Ulbricht is merely the commandant of an unusually large internment camp, which cannot be made to settle down because of free Berlin. And as long as East Germany cannot be truly stabilized, Eastern Europe cannot be stabilized either. * * * Therefore, the surrender of Ber¬ lin is Khrushchev’s first aim. How¬ ever, it is by no means his only aim. In particular, he also aims to promote the fearful series of other Western defeats and sur¬ renders, -in all parts of the world from Europe to the Far East, which would inevitably, remorse¬ lessly result from the surrender of Berlin. In this manner, as he sees it, he will vastly assist the course of history. He has just, finished trying to help out history in thé same way, but on a smaller scale, at Quemoy. Surrender there would have pro¬ duced the same sort of results in the Far East that surrender at Berlin would have produced in the world. But at Quemoy, Khrush¬ chev and his Chinese allies ran head on into the firm policy of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles. The Western alliance is far from presenting the same monolithic ap¬ pearance as the Chiang Kai-shek- Foster Dulles partnership. Dulles cannot make the decisions about Berlin virtually alone, as he made the decisions about Quemoy. He has to carry with him the British and French and West Germans. Khrushchev no doubt hopes that objections to firmness by one or another partner will hamstring Dulles. Hence Khrushchev may think he has a better chance at Berlin than at Quemoy. Fortunate¬ ly, the signs to date suggest that these calculations will finally prove wrong.